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IOC eyes new sponsor after London success

IOC Marketing Commission Chairman Gerhard Heiberg listens during a news conference announcing the IOC partnership with P&G in London July 28
IOC Marketing Commission Chairman Gerhard Heiberg listens during a news conference announcing the IOC partnership with P&G in London July 28

By Karolos Grohmann

BERLIN (Reuters) - The International Olympic Committee is planning to add a new sponsor in 2013 to replace computer manufacturer Acer, taking advantage of a favorable climate created by the London 2012 Olympics, the IOC's marketing chief said.

"The London 2012 Games were an absolute great success both for organizers and for the sponsors and it makes it easier to talk to companies after London," Gerhard Heiberg, head of the IOC's marketing commission, told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday.

Despite the economic downturn, London managed to balance its books with sponsorship deals and record revenues from ticket sales, Games organizers said in November.

Heiberg said the new sponsor would not necessarily have to be a computer company and instead reflect the changing electronics trends.

"We have plans and we are looking at that (computing) category and I hope to see the deal within the year. There are some possibilities with PC producers or some other companies to expand the category a little bit," he said.

"There are developments in this technical category. You have producers of TVs, PCs and other IT gadgets. There is such a revolution here."

The new sponsor will push the IOC's top sponsor program revenues for the period 2013-2016 above the $1 billion mark for the first time.

In comparison, the same program was worth $663 million for the period 2001-4.

The organization has already secured more than $720 million from sponsors for the 2017-2020 quadrennium from just seven companies.

BILLION DOLLARS

"Yes, we are on track for that (one billion dollar) target," Heiberg said, adding they were also looking to add one more company apart from the electronics partner.

"We have had some talks with possible newcomers and if we find the right company it could start immediately. We are looking at categories for this."

He did not say what category would accommodate another sponsor.

The IOC currently has 10 top sponsors signed up to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, including technology firms Samsung and Panasonic, and has set a maximum limit of 12 sponsors.

Heiberg said adding more than 12 companies would "dilute" their sponsorship concept which is expected to be tweaked after 2020, the cut-off date for any long-term deals.

"We do not want any more sponsors than 12. We stick to that. 2020 is also the limit (for contracts)," he said.

"We are working possibly on a new concept and looking at what are the advantages and disadvantages. But we have enough time for that," said the Norwegian, who was head of the 1994 Lillehammer winter Olympics.

Russia's Sochi will play host to the 2014 Winter Olympics while Rio will become the first South American city to stage the summer Games in 2016.

South Korea's Pyeongchang will host the 2018 winter Olympics while the 2020 host city will be elected in September with Istanbul, Tokyo and Madrid in the running.

(This story has been corrected to add dropped forename in second paragraph)

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, editing by Justin Palmer)

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